Optimizing Pooled Testing for Estimating the Prevalence of Multiple Diseases

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Pooled testing can enhance the efficiency of diagnosing individuals with diseases of low prevalence. Often, pooling is implemented using standard groupings (2, 5, 10, etc.). On the other hand, optimization theory can provide specific guidelines in finding the ideal pool size and pooling strategy. This article focuses on optimizing the precision of disease prevalence estimators calculated from multiplex pooled testing data. In the context of a surveillance application of animal diseases, we study the estimation efficiency (i.e., precision) and cost efficiency of the estimators with adjustments for the number of expended tests. This enables us to determine the pooling strategies that offer the highest benefits when jointly estimating the prevalence of multiple diseases, such as theileriosis and anaplasmosis. The outcomes of our work can be used in designing pooled testing protocols, not only in simple pooling scenarios but also in more complex scenarios where individual retesting is performed in order to identify positive cases. A software application using the shiny package in R is provided with this article to facilitate implementation of our methods. Supplementary materials accompanying this paper appear online.

Animal testing, Experimental design, Group testing, Screening, Surveillance, 3 Good Health and Well Being